'God for All' in Cumbria
Over the last few years churches across Cumbria have been talking, praying and planning together, seeking ways to revitalise the church and its work, and to help connect the people of Cumbria with the reality of God. The three denominations, Methodist, Anglican and United Reformed Church, have developed significant strategies to support this shared commitment – strategies for buildings, for outreach and for ministry.
This has now come together under the heading ‘God for All’, underlining that in different ways what we are doing is designed to put mission and evangelism at the heart of what we do – sharing in God’s work in this world and building for his Kingdom, helping more people connect with God and helping Christians go on and grow on in their faith, loving service, worship and witness.
God for All calls for change
Traditional models of church are still important but together we are exploring new styles and expressions of church. We are committed to strengthening the ways those people not involved with church can connect with the reality of God.
God for All promotes unity
Along with other denominations the Anglican, Methodist and United Reformed Church in Cumbria are working closely to bring about this shared vision and sense of purpose. Churches of different denominations will come together in new ‘mission communities’, creating a network of support, encouragement and growth. The particular emphasis (and challenge) of those mission communities will be to ensure that they are truly about a renewed and creative involvement in mission, and are not simply a convenient reorganisation of churches that maintains the (often struggling) status quo. Instead of talking about unity and mission we intend to be doing it, all-be-it that we recognise that ‘doing it’ instead of talking about it will not be easy.
God for All looks long term – it is not a ‘quick fix’ project
God for All brings with it new forms and styles of ministry and an exploration of how best to use buildings for worship, mission and community life. There is a new approach to church leadership, with each church having its own local leaders who could be ordained or lay. And there is a very significant emphasis on the evangelisation of both residents and visitors, and of all ages.
God for All has purpose
God for All wants everyone in Cumbria to have the opportunity to discover more of God and God’s purpose for their lives, with equipped and motivated Christians who are active in witness, service and mission and churches invigorated as communities of worship, care and outreach.
A dedicated website – www.godforall.org.uk – sets out something of the background of what is being done, and gives insights into progress and news of what is happening.
Our 'God for All' prayer, is a reminder that all this is dependent of the grace and guidance of God:
God for all, you reached out to the world in your Son Jesus Christ.
Help us to reach out in faith and love and witness to all.
God for all, you send your Holy Spirit to empower and gift your Church.
By your Spirit help us,
grow in unity,
grow as followers of Jesus Christ,
and grow your kingdom in Cumbria and in this world. Amen.
Robert Freeman, Bishop of Penrith